1 of 4 missing dogs presumed to be stolen returned to Austin Animal Center


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Animal Center says one of four dogs was returned Saturday after they disappeared and were presumed to be stolen.

Someone brought in Lilly, after they found her running around Highway 183 and Levander Loop. “We are so happy she’s back,” a shelter spokeswoman wrote in an email.

Image from Austin Animal Center

Shelter officials were asking for help on Thursday after the dogs dissappeared from the shelter and are presumed to be stolen.

“We’re asking the community to help us if they have any information to help locate these animals because the most important thing is the well-being of these four animals,” said Interim Chief Animal Services Officer Kimberly McNeeley.

At last report, a shelter spokeswoman said there are no leads on the other three dogs.

One of the missing dogs is a Pitbull mix and the two others are Staffordshire mixes. All three are between the ages of one and two years old.

Here’s the information about the missing dogs:

  • Dmitri: 2-year-old male, tan Staffordshire mix
  • Rex: 2-year-old male, brown Staffordshire mix, microchipped
  • Jeff: 2-year-old male, white Pitbull mix
Image from Austin Animal Center

McNeeley said Lilly and Dmitri were discovered to be missing on June 13 after an evening inventory check and staff noticed Rex and Jeff disappeared four days later.

Image from Austin Animal Center
Image from Austin Animal Center

“When we found that those animals were not in those kennel spaces that they were assigned we went through the process of checking with all of our partners, checking with our rescues, making sure that we did our due diligence in determining they were no longer on property and they were not with a trusted partner,” she said.

They then filed a police report with Austin Police, but at last report, the case had not yet been assigned to a detective because the report was filed on Thursday.

The facility does have security cameras set up throughout and officials have turned over that video with potential leads to police. Several volunteers have also come forward with tips.

Because of the 700 to 800 volunteers, plus employees and dog owners coming in and out every day, it’s been difficult to figure out what happened.

McNeeley said that it’s possible that this could have happened because of the way the facilities are designed.

“We’ve designed our space so that individuals would be able to interact with the animals and be able to ‘meet their match’ as they say and be able to interact and find out if that animal is a good fit for their family or for their lifestyle,” McNeeley said. “Because of that operation and that open space, there could be the possibility that someone who had ill intentions might be able to move the dog from the area and go unnoticed.”

Nothing like this has happened in the five months McNeeley has served as interim director, and an Austin police spokeswoman said in the past five years, they have not worked any animal theft cases.

As far as changes shelter administrative officials are looking at in hopes of preventing something like this from happening again, McNeeley said they are talking about adding security cameras, changing their security codes and adding to the process that people go through to access the facility.

“We’ve asked our volunteers to help us be vigilant and making sure that something like this never occurs again and we’ve also asked them if they have seen anything that they think is work reporting to us that they please share any information,” McNeeley said. “We know how much the community cares about animals and so we know that our community out of the kindness, out of the goodness of their heart if they know something, they would bring it forward.”

The dogs are not aggressive and you can approach or call them if you see them. If you do see one of them, know where they are, or have any information about them, call 3-1-1.

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